Sunday, July 3, 2011

Nine Stories by J.D.Salinger

     I read Catcher in The Rye (nice review of it here) when I was a nineteen year old, full of angst and acne. I was almost convinced that this story was written especially for me. I loved it deeply and kept going back to it for months. Considering all of this, it’s surprising to me that I hadn’t read any of Salinger’s other works. Until now that is.

    Nine Stories, as the title suggests is a compilation of nine short stories by Salinger. The short story is apparently his medium of choice, Catcher in the Rye being the only complete novel he wrote. I can see why, Salinger’s succinct prose and less-is-more style is ideally suited to the short story. He uses back stories sparingly and never analyses his characters (he leaves that to you).

     Many of the stories in this book feature members of the fictional Glass family.  The Glass family is a bunch of troubled and gifted people created by Salinger who appear in most of his short stories and novella’s. If you’ve read Franny and Zooey or Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction you would be familiar with them but it doesn’t matter really. In fact, the Glass name only ever crops up in A Perfect Day for Bananafish, it’s the back story that Salinger doesn’t bore you with. You can read more about it here.

    The stories explore isolation, growing pains, spirituality and death.  Death especially is almost a literary device here, appearing in the first and last story, differently but with the same smack-you-in-the-face abruptness.  De Daumier Smith’s Blue Period is Salinger at his humorous best.  The best known story in this book is For Esme- with Love and Squalor.  My favourite however is Down at the Dinghy. It’s a powerful and intimate story and I think it really is an excellent example of Salinger’s narrative skill and the symbolisms he weaves into the most mundane scenes.

     What I loved most about this book is that it doesn’t overindulge the reader. It leaves you to take from it what you will without crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s for you.  Filled with equal parts hope and despair, Nine Stories is a book that you can re-read and you can read it differently each time.  


  1. I also loved Catcher in the Rye and never read anything else my him. It sounds like his short stories are like Hemingway or Raymond Carver?

  2. I've actually never read Raymond Carver but Hemingway has a slight influence here I should think. If you loved Catcher... you will love this, I assure you.

  3. Interesting. I also loved Catcher in the Rye. I'll check this one out.

  4. Love this collection! It was one of the first books I was required to read during my M.F.A. "A Perfect Day for Bananafish" is my favorite.

    I don't know if I'd quite compare Salinger to Hemingway or Carver (who are so much more sparse--not just in plot, but in sentence structure). I love them all, though. =) Thanks!

    -Miss GOP

  5. I read this before Catcher and liked the latter sooo much more. I think these were all too vague for me. I like Holden's voice a lot more.

  6. thanks Dana

    Miss Good on Paper I agree about Hemingway being more sparse. Must look up Carver

    Alice Catcher is the best of Salinger of course. No argument there.

  7. Very nice review! Thanks for posting it on my FF today! I haven't read this one yet, but I definitely will. :)

  8. Kristina I'm glad you liked my review. I hope you enjoy the book.